Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae last month presented the Rotary Club of Kerikeri with a special award for its contribution of 25 ShelterBox emergency response kits for use in disaster zones around the world.
Last year Rotary International adopted ShelterBox, an international organisation delivering life-saving emergency shelter and humanitarian aid, as its first global project partner. Rotary fundraising efforts make up a significant proportion of donations received by ShelterBox. The clubs also provide logistical support to ShelterBox field operations.
Of all the Rotary Clubs and other funding organisations in New Zealand, the Mid North club with its 41 members has financed the greatest number of the big green boxes containing a tent large enough to accommodate an extended family and an assortment of equipment and tools.
The kits, each costing $1,500, have been used in crisis areas extending from East Africa through to Syria and, most recently, the Philippines. Rotary Club of Kerikeri member Owen Smith has spent many weeks in various disaster zones providing field support.
Club President Martin Macpherson said the award was really for the people of the town and the wider Bay of Islands community.
“We raise the money and put it to use. But at the end of the day it’s not our money. It’s yours. Everyone who pays for a ticket to the annual Garden Safari fund-raiser. Everyone who enters the Northern Crossing coast-to-coast multisport event. Everyone who contributes financially to a Rotary Club of Kerikeri event. These are the people who, ultimately, fund the work we do. So thank you.”
Macpherson said the need for emergency shelter was not just in distant or underdeveloped countries. ShelterBoxes were used in Australia in the wake of flooding and bushfires there. They were also deployed during the Christchurch earthquake.
Sir Jerry said the chunky green plastic boxes represented hope for families that had suffered great loss, not just of a home but in many cases a loss of family, friends and livelihood. They provided some stability at a time when the usual support systems and services are in chaos, or lacking.